Corpus Christi College Oxford

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'Dance Your PhD' Winner

 

Corpus student Merritt Moore has won the Physics Prize of the annual 'Dance Your PhD' competition! The annual competition challenges research students to interpret their work through the medium of dance for a wider audience, a challenge Merritt met head on combining her skills as a dancer and physicist. In her life as a Physicist Merritt works on Atomic and Laser Physics, a passion she has long-combined with that for dance. Prior to joining Corpus, Merritt graduated from Harvard with a degree in physics, but alongside her academic development she has been a professional ballet dancer with the Zurich Ballet, the Boston Ballet, and the English National Ballet.

You can see Merritt's winning dance below, and read a little more about the concept behind it. The College would like to offer Merritt huge congratulations on this win!

 

About the video, which can also be viewed on YouTube, Merritt writes:  'For my PhD in Atomic & Laser Physics at the University of Oxford, I create pairs of photons to be used for quantum information experiments. A photon is a particle of light, and by creating a single pair, we can explore exotic and fascinating properties of quantum mechanics, like entanglement.

To create pairs of photons, a powerful laser (represented by the pianist's hands driving the music) is guided into a non-linear crystal (the laboratory). When the laser interacts with the crystal, pairs of photons (the dancers) are generated -- a process known as spontaneous parametric down-conversion. The generated photons have half the energy of a laser photon to satisfy energy conservation (hence the lower "red frequency" dress and tie).

Even when a photon pair leaves the crystal (the lab), they continue down the same path. It is only when they are separated by a polarizing beam-splitter that the two photons are forced in different directions, because of their different polarizations. These photons are generated spontaneously and would otherwise be impossible to measure without destroying them; therefore they are intentionally separated so that one can be detected to herald the existence of the other. We can use the remaining photon as a carrier of quantum information for our various applications.'

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